Regarding why 2D CRPGs died out in the first place

Recommended Posts

- Too much bloom

God, I hate bloom.

Oblivion had so much bloom that everything looked fuzzy.

Play Bioshock: Infinite, you'll love it!

Share on other sites

It's true that that the game has actual depth information for every pixel on screen, so if you want to, you can conceptually think of the whole thing as 3D scenery with "real depth", but that's not how the game handles it.

Which was my entire point. The GPU renders it as if it was real 3D geometry in lighting/occlusion because that's how normal/bump maps work.

You have a very strange understanding of concepts like "real depth", "real 3D geometry" and "fully-functional 3D scenery" - and of how normal maps work.

It's a goddamn texture, with fake lighting added using a normal map.

Edited by Caerdon
Share on other sites

It's true that that the game has actual depth information for every pixel on screen, so if you want to, you can conceptually think of the whole thing as 3D scenery with "real depth", but that's not how the game handles it.

Which was my entire point. The GPU renders it as if it was real 3D geometry in lighting/occlusion because that's how normal/bump maps work.

You have a very strange understanding of concepts like "real depth", "real 3D geometry" and "fully-functional 3D scenery" - and of how normal maps work.

It's a goddamn texture, with fake lighting added using a normal map.

What you see is always a projection on a 2-dimensional space (a flat screen). Any 3D information along the road will get lost as soon as it is displayed. It only matters for internal calculus: collision and occlusion.

What you call as "fake lighting" isn't any less 3D than "real lighting" using vertices. The internal mechanics of graphic processing are the same. It's just the mathematical model that is different: "real 3D geometry" uses vertices and coordinates to store the z-depth. "pseudo 3D" used in PoE uses a pixel map to store the z-depth. Both get processed into per-pixel occlusion when it hits the output layer (screen).

Think of it like this: if every pixel on the texture was a tiny, pixel-sized polygon instead, would the game look different? No, because the lighting and z-depth informations required for collision and occlusion are all there.

The only thing we don't have is advanced rendering procedures like raytracing. Because that requires real vertex-based geometry. But then again, all the landscapes in PoE are derived from real 3D geometry anyway, allowing for raytraced lighting to be baked directly into the image, so it's kind of pointless to have that.

Edited by Zwiebelchen
Share on other sites

Fake lighting using normal maps is different from real lighting using vertices. The latter can handle self-shadows and ambient occlusion, for example.

But yeah, at least you're using the term pseudo 3D now, because that's correct. Eternity is 2.5D. The data in Unity is sourced from a true 3D scenery in Maya, but what's left is not really "fully functional 3D". There's not enough information to handle shadows, collision or 3D rotation, for example.

• 1
Share on other sites

I'm sure it also had to do with the rise of consoles, and cross-platform development.

Isometric games don't play well on consoles and with the Xbox entering the arena and the PS2 being really, really popular I can see why publisher were pushing for those.

Share on other sites

At some point in history 3D was just in demand. GTA 2 had problems because it was not 3D while competition made that jump. imho fall of cRPGs is separate matter that just happen more less at the same time.

Anyway I am glad to live in the times where there is little something for everyone: Pillars of Eternity, Shadowrun <3

Edited by Yenkins
Share on other sites

What if they left the backgrounds in PoE as the original 3D ones then? Wouldn't this work?

Share on other sites

What if they left the backgrounds in PoE as the original 3D ones then? Wouldn't this work?

Obviously. But then they'd have to include ALL the textures and model files that were used in the design process of these areas aswell, bloating up the size of the game. And you would also lose the final "paintover" layer of scenery composition, resulting in less visible details.

Share on other sites

remember that this one is coming too this year

http://store.steampowered.com/app/325600/

can't say that 2015 is the year of the CRPG's

Share on other sites

"When KOTOR was a huge success,"

No more than the BGs or NWN.

"NWN graphics was a massive downgrade compared to previous IE games."

No.

Care to elaborate as to why you disagree?

from my point of view, while 3d graphics was nice from an immersion perspective, the graphics themselves were so completely lifeless and dull compared to those in PS:T, BG and similar games. While NWN2 had far better graphics, they felt far more mass produced than the area graphics from 2d games

• 1
Share on other sites

Also NWN2 received the same engine modding treatment that oblivion and morrowind had

A modded NWN2 nowdays looks gorgeous

Share on other sites

"When KOTOR was a huge success,"

No more than the BGs or NWN.

"NWN graphics was a massive downgrade compared to previous IE games."

No.

Care to elaborate as to why you disagree?

from my point of view, while 3d graphics was nice from an immersion perspective, the graphics themselves were so completely lifeless and dull compared to those in PS:T, BG and similar games. While NWN2 had far better graphics, they felt far more mass produced than the area graphics from 2d games

Whilst I agree with you, the problem was visual design, not the move from 2D to 3D. See Warcraft 3 for an example of how 2D to 3D doesn't need to decrease character/style if talented visual designers are involved. NWN though, uggggh has basically no visual design, no style, and actually looks older than it really is. It didn't have to be that way.

Edited by Eurhetemec
Share on other sites

Hey there. I'm the new guy. I haven't been sucked into a new RPG as much as this one at least as far back as New Vegas, probably more like the original Baldur's Gate, when it was breaking all new grounds in 1998. I'm ashamed to not have backed this also (I have yet to back a game). Yet I'm hoping that this will mark the beginning of something new, not just a one-off.

For me it's never been a case of 2d or 3d. They're both technologies, tools. It is the artist and what he's doing with it that matters. Speaking of which, Neverwinter Nights look didn't suffer of the basic 3d technology of its time as much as of the art direction -- in my opinion anyways. 3D has some inherent advantages that 2D can't cope with, and vice versa. It depends on the game and experience though. I enjoyed New Vegas immensely, Bloodlines even by 2015 standards is almost absurdly packed with vision and scope, and I would have loved to see the canceled Aliens RPG to see the light of day. Speaking of which, as some of you have pointed out, indeed there was a push for 3D at the turn of the millenium. It's not merely 2d that has been slowly fading though, it is more specialized games in general. Back in 1997, something (as crude looking for today's eyes) as Fallout could still happily sit on the same shelf as the likes of Jedi Knight. Budgets for the most expensive games hadn't yet exploded (Wing Commander and Interactive Movies featuring Hollywood's B cast aside), titles didn't need to break the million units sold point to barely break even.

In more recent years that changed a little though. New models of distribution opened up, as did new ways of funding a game. What is exciting to me about the latest Kickstarter ressurgance isn't so much that it is happening. It is who has actually been involved. It's not like these games had died out in the first place, it's just that they didn't have an audience that would warrant triple A budgets or attract triple A publishers. Thus it was small indie outlets filling the gaps. From small garage teams like in the 1980s to smaller publishers who specialize on niches. Here in Germany you have actually publishers who very much focus on PC adventure games -- and doing reasonably well enough even though they sell significantly less than your average PC RPG (a game selling 50,000 units is considered a major hit pretty much -- and though not as complex in development as a fully-fledged RPG, they all feature fully professional voice overs throughout, and production values up to this: http://www.kingart-games.de/bout2/). They all have competition now. As now you're getting the most creative heads in the industry taking note -- and scaling back a little. If your game doesn't cost 20 millions+ to make and market, you don't have to ship a million plus units in the first place to turn a profit. Thus Tim Schafer's first new adventure game ever since the utterly brilliant Grim Fandango will be released soon (though it reportedly went hugely overbudget). Brian Fargo appears to have embarked on a quest to do sequels or spiritual follow-ups to just about anyone's favourite cult RPGs. And Obsidian have just released the fantastic Pillars Of Eternity. Thank you to the backers, thank you to Josh, Faergus, Josh, Adam, Eric and the entire team for making this a reality.

There is a little uncertainty about Kickstarter, probably, and that is because of the people. It very much relies on them: If they don't trust you anymore, the backing might fade. That is why I'm hoping for traditional publishers to take note too, Obsidian's connections to Paradox sound like a great fit. In the Road To Eternity video, it became apparent that Obsidian had trouble finding such a publisher for games like this. Yet there are publishers out there who very much focus on PC games, interestingly even Sega, who canned the Aliens RPG for reasons the public will likely never know. Take a look at their portfolio: their biggest franchises are Total War (totally PC) and Football Manager, a series selling a million copies each year despite not sporting much of any kind of graphics to begin with (correspondingly, it is always to be found amongst Steam's most played titles at any time of the day).

Here's hoping and off to the Endless Paths now. )

Share on other sites

I`m hoping someone ends up making a good SciFi RPG game someday soon. It´s been ages since we got anything from that front (Mass Effect franchise ended up as a space soap opera shooters).

XCom revival and Xenonauts at least brought tactical scifi games back, but where is the RPG part and why nobody is taking on it? It´s been mostly procedural games these days... I do like them, but it would be nice to have a story to go with all that content too once in a while.

Share on other sites

NWN's single player was built in a hurry to support what they spent the majority of their time on, the module creation engine. All the artwork had to be constructed to support the idea that it would be used in the module editor dynamically, so you could lay down walls, and doodads, and it would just work. I would say it worked well enough. I can't comment on the art design but I can only imagine how difficult it was to make compelling art that could be slotted in dynamically in the editor.

Share on other sites

That is an excellent point about how it all had to fit the "make your own adventure" toolsets (which where the game's best asset). I think my point about art direction was more about that NWN wasn't exactly the most thrilling looking game released. A year down the road for instance there was Beyond Good And Evil for instance, a game sporting a fantastic art style, which still holds up reaonsablish enoug considering that it's been more than a decade. )

I`m hoping someone ends up making a good SciFi RPG game someday soon. It´s been ages since we got anything from that front (Mass Effect franchise ended up as a space soap opera shooters).

XCom revival and Xenonauts at least brought tactical scifi games back, but where is the RPG part and why nobody is taking on it? It´s been mostly procedural games these days... I do like them, but it would be nice to have a story to go with all that content too once in a while.

I mean it's understandable given where they're coming from both in terms of players and developers -- but the the weird thing about RPGs it's that if somebody would annouce a WWII RPG tomorrow it would cause heads being turned. :D I think Aliens could have been amazing, though I don't know the direction they were going for. The (Colonial Marines) squad stuff was all in the original X-Com already, sort of, and seeing your squad being killed off one by one worked really well in there -- being able to give them names even made it feel a little personal when they were KIA. Maybe it would have been more akin to System Shock though, which would also suit the license really well, speaking of which, Alien:Isolation for the most part absolutely nailed the original movie. As for Obsidian's next moves, I expect them to release at least another game in their newly created universe surrounding Eora, as it's their very own thing, and very important and personal to them such. I think it was announced to become a franchise thing in case of Kickstarter success anyhow. There are of course many overlaps with the typical D&D stuff, but I find it pretty enjoyable and intriguing so far.

I'm just very glad these kinds of games are sort of back, and that this is hopefully the start of some diversity -- what is it that is keeping companies from working on franchises such as South Park as well as something smaller in scale, typically? Unfortunately for studios such as Double Fine or Obsidian, they are located in an area where making games is pretty expensive, admittedly. Pillars isn't an entirelly retro affair either way, and I'm personally glad that most of the press and players pick up on that as well. ) There is a lot of influence from Troika and Black Isle games of yore, bold ideas and design that has never been picked up from ever since -- and there is something about text that a fully cinematic cutscene will never be able to convey. I love this game. And I hope it is the game, or part of a wave of games that will change the nature of an industry.

Share on other sites

WWII Tactical Combat RPG with fully destructible environments = Silent Storm

Came out years ago.. nobody noticed, even tho its one of the better tactics games to come out in years.

Would have made a GREAT "core" for Xenonauts and/or XCOM revival...  but alas, those got poor shoddy inferior engines with poor tactical combat... blech..

PoE.. Should be remade using the "New" engine coming out.. something something storm coast.. make it a "module"..

Share on other sites

WWII Tactical Combat RPG with fully destructible environments = Silent Storm

Came out years ago.. nobody noticed, even tho its one of the better tactics games to come out in years.

Looked it up on Mobygames, where it's compared to Jagged Alliance (which is not a bad thing, obviously). Never had heard about it myself, actually.

On a related note to the topic at hand, there is a recent PoE review that is linked to the 2d/3d debate.

http://www.incgamers.com/2015/04/pillars-of-eternity-review

Have there been any words from Obsidian ever since the release? I looked for a couple older articles from a few days ago, in some of them Chris Avellone was quoted as saying that he'd hugely enjoyed it if there were working on multiple projects like this at once -- like BIS of yore -- but I haven't found anything recent concerning future plans and the state of things except for the confirmed add-on for PoE. Just seen that inXile's Torment: Tides Of Numenera is still open to be pledged. )

Share on other sites

"NWN graphics was a massive downgrade compared to previous IE games."

No.

Seriously?

The graphics were so rudimentary and the aesthetic so regular, geometric, rigid and sterile that everything felt dead boring or simply goofy and lame.

I agree with this.

How can anyone in their right mind try to ship a multimillion dollar product without making absolutely sure that they don't upset all their players with a degree in Medieval English Linguistics?

Share on other sites

I`m hoping someone ends up making a good SciFi RPG game someday soon. It´s been ages since we got anything from that front (Mass Effect franchise ended up as a space soap opera shooters).

XCom revival and Xenonauts at least brought tactical scifi games back, but where is the RPG part and why nobody is taking on it? It´s been mostly procedural games these days... I do like them, but it would be nice to have a story to go with all that content too once in a while.

Don't get me started on the new XCOM. I was so disappointed. I still play the original XCOM: UFO Defense.

How can anyone in their right mind try to ship a multimillion dollar product without making absolutely sure that they don't upset all their players with a degree in Medieval English Linguistics?

Share on other sites

NWN graphics was a massive downgrade compared to previous IE games.

Graphic was maybe a downgrade but NWN is still the best game , because the editor and DM tool.

Sadly it seems we will never again have something like that again

Share on other sites

As for me 2D is much more beautifull and imersive than 3D. And in good cRPG with tons of text it leaves place for our own imagination. PoE is beautifull game and I have no idea how much bigger budget is needed to make equally beautifull game in 3D. Really for good cRPG 3D is only a financial burden.

"Go where the others have gone, to the tenebrous limit

for the golden fleece of void, your ultimate prize

go upright among those who are on their knees

among those turning their backs on and those fallen to dust"

Zbigniew Herbert, Message of Mr. Cogito

Share on other sites

I've been having just as much fun with PoE as with the Dragon Age games (actually more), despite the lack of 3D. I really wish publishers would let games be in 2D when there was no gameplay exigency for their use. This would allow more experimentation and innovation as the cost of development would be so much lower.

This is my thought.  If the game kind of "needs" it, like a shooter or flight sim or something, then sure, 3D is the way to go.  But for a tactical, party-based game like most RPGs?  Give me (a nice looking) 2D, any day.  PoE nailed the graphics, imo.

I should mention that I don't care for 1st person games in general (Elder Scroll game included), and think Dwarf Fortress (with a decent tileset) has wonderful graphics...

• 1
Share on other sites

I`m hoping someone ends up making a good SciFi RPG game someday soon. It´s been ages since we got anything from that front (Mass Effect franchise ended up as a space soap opera shooters).

XCom revival and Xenonauts at least brought tactical scifi games back, but where is the RPG part and why nobody is taking on it? It´s been mostly procedural games these days... I do like them, but it would be nice to have a story to go with all that content too once in a while.

Don't get me started on the new XCOM. I was so disappointed. I still play the original XCOM: UFO Defense.

"NWN graphics was a massive downgrade compared to previous IE games."

No.

Seriously?

The graphics were so rudimentary and the aesthetic so regular, geometric, rigid and sterile that everything felt dead boring or simply goofy and lame.

I agree with this.

It's worth noting that in both cases, visual design was the big flaw with the graphics, with the new XCOM having this weirdly colourful and severely bland style (all of the colour of X-Com and then some, none of the style), and with NWN being just horribly visually designed to the point where it appeared to have no visual design and instead to have originated in some model library full of ultra-generic fantasy models or something (except, sadly, it didn't).

(Of course the new XCOM had a lot of problems beyond graphics, but virtually all of them came down to being terminally bland on every possible level, from visuals to music to gameplay to plot, which is also a horrible problem with Firaxis' more recent games - Beyond Earth and Starships - Beyond Earth being utterly wrecked by it, because it's always compared to the totally un-bland SMAC and even Civ V is amazingly vivid and diverse by comparison, let alone stuff like Endless Legend. I dunno what's going on over there, but they need some new creative directors, and they need them yesterday.)

• 1